Will Adam Smith drive businesses in the future ? I’m doubtful…


We often say that implementing enterprise 2.0 is useless if it’s done in an 1.0. Said like this, even if “we” understand what it means, it’s still hard to get for many people.

That refers to enterprise models named according as two eras of the internet : one named 1.0 and the other 2.0. In practical terms it’s about opposing a top-down and directive model an emerging relying on the existence of an “invisible hand” that, in the same way as Adam’s Smith theory in economics, would make people personal actions and choices contribute to a collective purpose without the need of organizing anything.

Anyway, it’s an opposition between an out-of-breath dirigist model and harrowing one that means for businesses “it’s critical to your survival but you don’t have to do anything…just trust your employees and let them do what they decide to do”. In the same way that the economical word realized that Adam’s Smith’s invisible hand needed some guidance, the same conclusion is imposing upon businesses that can’t rely on serendipity to ensure their sustainability and success.

Here’s a quick comparison of “1.0”, “2.0” and “2.0 rationalized” adoption principles.

1.02.0Rationalized 2.0
Command and controlLet people doset up goals, build a framework, give guidance and let people do
Adoption is order-drivenAdoption is driven by desireAdoption is driven by sense
Everythings has to be scriptedPeople are free to make decision and actA light script helps people being reassured and then they grow bold and become more autonomous
Only what can be used immediately and provide immediate benefits is allowedAnything may be useful one dayNeed to articulate in the flow and over the flow activities, give each a framework a timeframe
Everything is verticalEverything is horizontal and networkedHorizontal and vertical articulate, verticality is a responsability and decision making model, horizontality is a model for getting things done
Focus on the organic structure (team, departments...)Focus on communitiesOrganic and communities articulate.
What is not expressly authorized is prohibitedPeople should respect the "etiquette". Nothing is mandatory.Everything that's out of a defined framework is subject to validation, the rest is authorized is possible. The "Don't be stupid" rule applies.

Generally speaking it seems obvious that Serendipity and the Invisible hand, even if they can bring many benefits to excessively rigid organizations, aren’t viable business or organizational models alone.